TITLE: Research and Development Part I; Hunger
FEEDBACK: (where feedback should be sent: on or off list)
DISCLAIMER: Belongs to JKR. No profit. No infringement etc.
SUMMARY: Harry wants Remus. Remus wants Harry. It should be simple, right? Mwahahaha. Not while I'm the author. Harry's filled with adolescent rage, Remus fights his inappropriate lust, and they both end up facing a werewolf plot device.
CATEGORY: (Drama / First Time / Humor / Hurt-Comfort / Romance)
BETAS: tahnee and Kel—thanks, guys!
Harry sat on the floor on his bedroom, staring at his feet. He could he hear the muted noise of the television downstairs, and the Dursleys gossiping and complaining. The floor was hard and uncomfortable, but he refused to sit on the bed. He did not deserve the comfort of a mattress. He was reading an advanced book on Transfiguration, having, for once—like Hermione—finished his course books before the school year even began. He would study hard, he told himself at the beginning of the summer, and he would like it. Or he wouldn't like it; but then he certainly didn't deserve to enjoy himself, did he?
Sirius was dead. And whatever anyone else said, Harry knew that it was entirely his fault. At the beginning of the summer, he had been angry with everyone—Bellatrix, for taking the killing shot, Snape, for giving no hint that he'd understood Harry's warning and for always goading Sirius, Dumbledore, for keeping secrets from him, Umbridge, for her very existence, even Remus, for holding him back when he'd wanted to save Sirius or follow his godfather through the veil. But that had been months ago, and now that it was July, all of the loathing and blame had focused on one person—himself. He knew Sirius had died as a direct result of his own actions.
He couldn't even begin to deal with the grief and guilt, so he hid himself away, in the darkness of his bedroom, and punished himself. No sitting on comfortable surfaces. No having fun. And even though the Dursleys fed him, he ate very little of what was offered. He had no appetite, and how dare he indulge that way, when Sirius would never eat again?
All he did was work. He read every magical text he could get his hands on, studying as though his life depended on it—not that that mattered to him, but anyhow it very well might depend on it. And he jogged in place, and did sit ups and push ups and whatever exercise he could think of for an enclosed space. After all, he wasn't allowed to go outdoors anymore. Voldemort might 'get' him.
As he was reading about changing states of matter, he heard a slight 'pop' in the corner of the room, and looked up quickly to see Mad-Eye Moody scowling at him. "Get your things, and let's get going."
"Er. Where?" Harry inquired. It was only midsummer; they couldn't possibly take him away from the safety of the Dursleys yet, could they?
"Your birthday party. We'll be coming back afterwards, so you won't be needing everything." His eye spun around, taking in all the objects in the room, most of which were actually Dudley's.
Harry considered explaining this, but it seemed too much of an effort. "I'd rather not, thanks," he told the man. "I mean, I appreciate the gesture, but I think everyone would be safer if I just stayed here. We can throw parties any time, you know." A party—that was ALL Harry needed. He couldn't stand the thought of all those people around him, trying to cheer him up. All the meaningless platitudes and lip service. He frowned at the book, determined to ignore the man in the corner.
Mad-Eye's accustomed scowl turned into a glare, but he was quiet for a long moment before saying anything. "Lupin put a lot of trouble into this party. He's going to have some mighty hurt feelings if you can't even bother to show up."
Harry flushed, torn between anger and embarrassment. He didn't know who had figured out that Remus was a sure assault against his defenses, but he would like to strangle them. He had a shrewd idea it was Hermione—she was pretty perceptive, especially about things like feelings. He just wasn't certain if she realized he'd had something of a crush on the man since third year, or if she'd just seen that Harry felt more guilty about Remus than anything else. Whatever the case, he sure as hell didn't think it was anybody else's business.
He took several deep breaths, trying to calm down. He was so angry all the time; it felt like he didn't have any control over his own body sometimes. Finally his shoulders slumped. The thing about Remus was that his feelings probably would be hurt—and he would never, ever mention it. No, he would just be nice, like he always was. And Harry would feel even worse, with no way of explaining why Remus shouldn't be hurt. "I'll go," he said quietly, and Moody nodded. Harry got up and quickly gathered a few of his belongings. He wouldn't need much.
"Here, take this," Moody held out his hand, where a small lug nut rested on a handkerchief. "Ministry gave Dumbledore the authority to make a few emergency Portkeys. I know you don't like 'em, and I don't blame you, but it's the best way."
Harry grimaced, reluctantly reaching out to take touch the thing. Immediately, he felt the all too familiar hook behind his navel, and was soon standing in the Weasley's living room. Well, at least it wasn't 22 Grimmauld Place. He wasn't sure he could handle that. For now, he was just happy to be here, surrounded by…these people that thoroughly annoyed him. He sighed, trying to combat that black rage bubbling up inside of him again. It just came out of nowhere, sometimes, and made life so very hard to deal with.
"Harry! I'm so glad you came!" that hoarse, welcome, dreaded voice sounded out behind him, and he tried to arrange his face in a suitably friendly smile.
He turned to Lupin, who was smiling broadly…although it may have been a bit forced, and wearing a… "Er. Hi. Is that an apron? A pink apron?" Harry gestured, feeling a bit at sea. He was used to seeing the man in shabby robes. It was true that he had fantasized—particularly at night when he couldn't seem to help himself—of seeing the man in something else, but…pink aprons had not featured prominently. Tight blue jeans, yeah. Leather jackets, for sure. Pink aprons? Not hardly…
"Oh, that." Lupin looked mildly embarrassed. "Molly let me borrow it. For while I cooked. Er. Come see what I've made for you!"
Harry felt the enormous guilt well up once more, far surpassing the rage in its insidious power, but, well… Lupin looked so proud. How would it alleviate Harry's self-reproach if he were to make the man feel badly by saying he wasn't hungry? Harry followed him into the kitchen, trying not to drag his feet too much. On the counter was one of the most…gaudy-looking desserts he had ever laid eyes on. Strawberries were sprinkled extravagantly across mounds of rich whipped cream, which were settled ponderously atop an almost-totally buried foundation of cake. Large scoops of ice cream lavishly surrounded the base, completing the very picture of an example of how to become obese in one sitting. Harry gaped.
"That's…just…holy cow…" he managed.
Remus beamed. "I did it all myself. It has a Chilling Charm on it, so it should still be fine after we've eaten supper—so I'm afraid you'll just have to wait until then to have some."
"I—er…right…" Harry said dazedly, and let Lupin push him into the dining room.
"Harry!" Hermione's arms were thrown around him, and he tried not to cringe away from the embrace. It wasn't like he didn't like Hermione, but he'd not grown up in a very touchy-feely family, and her enthusiasm could be a bit overwhelming.
"Hey!" he said, trying to work some warmth into his voice. He was just so tired. "How've you been?" He followed her to sit at the table, where Ron gave him a grin.
"Have some chicken, Harry. Mum fried it—it's really good—" he said, shoveling some onto a plate and handing it to his friend.
"Um…thanks." Harry listened to Hermione talk about what was going on as far as she knew, and Lupin headed out into the backyard to join the rest of the adults. Harry picked at his food.
"Come on; you'll want to eat more than that," Ron said. "D'you want to eat out back? There are six fully fledged wizards out there," he added for Hermione's benefit, "so Harry ought to be just fine outside."
"Yeah…I would like that," Harry said gratefully, knowing he'd gotten terribly pale over the summer, languishing indoors all the time. "And I don't really need to eat any more. Did you see the dessert?"
Ron laughed. "It's a monster, isn't it? Lupin was so happy he'd get to see you; I'm kind of surprised it doesn't need a room of its own. Eat it before it eats you, Harry, that's all I can say," he advised.
Hermione grinned, too. "When he said he would need three dozen eggs, I thought Mrs. Weasley was going to tell him to buy his own. She didn't much like giving up her kitchen for the project, I can tell you that. And after seeing all the bowls and things he used…I thought we'd need a crane just to get it to the table."
"I might have overdone it a tad," a voice responded, and the three whirled to see Lupin standing in the doorway. They turned an uncomfortable red, but the man was grinning. "But after all, how often does one turn sixteen? It's quite an important day, you know. From this day forward, Harry will be considered of age. He'll be allowed to learn to Apparate, and he'll—"
"Not likely," Harry said grimly.
Instead of faltering as Harry thought he would, Lupin just grinned more widely. "Actually, I think you'll find that we're all in agreement that you should learn to Apparate, and the sooner the better. Tonks and Mad-Eye and I will all be instructing you. Hermione and Ron have already begun learning. Hermione's almost got it down pat."
"Yeah, well, she would, wouldn't she?" Ron muttered sullenly, making Harry feel just a little better about having been left out of the lesson until now. Hermione shot him a glare, while still somehow managing to look properly pleased at Lupin's compliment.
"Yes, well. Why don't we all head outside? Arthur's got a lovely barbeque going." He gave Harry an encouraging smile and shepherded them out the door.
Lupin sighed as he watched the boy skillfully maneuver his fork around so it looked like he was about to take a bite, without ever actually doing so. That same bit of potato salad had been there for a quarter of an hour. If this kept up, he would have no choice but to talk with the boy. He really didn't want to—he had always been one of the least confrontational people he knew—but Harry was becoming so thin…and he hadn't started off at a proper weight in the first place.
"I'm glad he wanted to come, at least," Remus said quietly to Moody, who frowned and shook his head.
"He didn't want to come. I had to pull out the Threat, again."
Remus sighed briefly, closing his eyes. The Threat had become commonplace, which was surprising, considering how odd it had seemed at first. At the beginning of the summer, the boy had been so terse and contrary—he would say down was up just to argue with you about it. It had been hell getting him to do anything, but then…
Hermione had simply suggested that, for some reason, Remus's opinion would matter more to Harry than the others, and that if Harry were handled carefully, he might be a little more willing to go along with certain things, if they somehow involved Remus. Remus had been certain she was wrong—why on earth would his thoughts or feelings matter to Harry, who barely knew the man? He certainly liked Harry well enough—probably better than was proper, actually—and he knew Harry liked him, perhaps even thought of him as a friend, but Harry had many friends. And Harry had scads of admirers. Why on earth should he affect the boy differently?
But one attempt was all it took to convince Lupin that, for whatever reason, Harry would be much more pliable if he himself got involved. They'd had Mundungus tell Harry to write to Ron and Hermione, because they missed him and he'd declined to send any owls. Harry, true to his adolescent obstinacy, outright refused. So then Lupin took a turn, telling Harry that Ron and Hermione were worried, and he was worried, and it would ease his mind an awful lot if he knew Harry was turning to his friends for much needed support, and so on and so forth. And out went an owl with parchment in tow—a sulky and reluctant correspondence, to be sure, but still the boy had done it.
Lupin just wished he understood why Harry had done it. Perhaps understanding that was the key to a lot of other things about Harry, and a way to help him through some of his problems. There just weren't a lot of possibilities in the werewolf's mind that would have explained that kind of behaviour. Harry could be looking at Remus like a surrogate father—but they had spoken of that almost right at the outset, and Harry insisted he didn't want that; no one could replace Sirius. It was possible that Harry looked up to Remus and wanted to keep on good terms with someone he admired, but Remus felt this was doubtful. After all, he was not much of anything for a teenaged boy to admire—not the way Sirius was—he dressed poorly, and he never did anything flashy or brave. Harry might have behaved that way if he'd had a crush on Remus, but Remus felt like this was an even more unlikely scenario. However strangely warm and tingly he felt at contemplating it. Aside from all the reasons listed that a teenaged boy would not idolize the werewolf, there was also no indication the boy was that way inclined, or interested in older men, or capable of getting a crush on a known werewolf. And he certainly could have done a lot better than Remus, in any case.
No, there were only two options that seemed remotely feasible in this case—and Remus was thoroughly depressed by both of them. The first was that Sirius had asked Harry to befriend Remus if anything happened to him. He'd already asked Remus to look after Harry, so that was a distinct possibility. The thought that maybe his best friend felt the need to fix his friendships for him because he wouldn't have been able to form his own made him quite angry. Stupid Sirius—if that were the case. The second possibility was that Harry simply was desperate to keep contact with the one person that was part of the lives of the people he'd loved. Remus was the last living person who had been close to Lily, James and Sirius—the last person that hadn't actively attempted to get them killed, of course. This didn't make him angry, but he did feel very…sad, thinking about it. Part of it was perhaps a small ache of disappointment that Harry didn't like Remus for himself. The greater part, however, was simple sorrow that Harry was so insecure as to feel the need to comply with Remus's every whim simply out of fear of losing him otherwise. If he'd known Remus better, he'd have realized that it didn't begin to matter; he would always love Harry, regardless of the boy's actions. But Harry was at an age that didn't take that kind of declaration well. It would not be considered…cool…or whatever the current slang was.
Suddenly, Harry looked up and caught Remus's eye. The boy flushed several shades of crimson, before ducking his head and finally putting his fork in his mouth. What was that about? For the next several minutes, the boy ate studiously, as though that was what he'd been doing all along. Did Harry think he'd been caught in the act of not eating? Yes…that was probably it. Although Remus couldn't fathom why it would cause the boy to flush. Well, at least he was eating. And Remus was going to make damn sure the boy had a good serving of cake. It wasn't the most nutritional thing that he could have fed the youth, but it has strawberries and was made from lots of eggs, and anyway the boy could do with a bit of fat, as well. Remus intended to see Harry tuck away a large portion of it—even if he had to passive-aggressively trick him into it.
Harry tried not to groan when Remus plunked a good two pounds of birthday cake onto his plate. Dear God, how can he expect me to eat all of this? He can't really, can he? But one glance at the werewolf's hopeful, expectant face told Harry, oh, yes he did. "Erm. Gosh. This looks…really great, Remus," he said, searching for a tactful truth. "You must have put a lot of work into it."
"I certainly did," Remus replied, "so I really hope you like it," he said anxiously. Harry managed a half-grin—there just was something so irresistibly…cute about Remus when he was being unsure of himself. How could Harry not produce a genuine smile? Remus returned the smile, his eyes shining with affection. "Happy sweet sixteen, Harry," he said.
Harry's stomach did a funny flip, and his half-smile widened as he took his seat. He tried not to blush too badly, but it was hard to mind much if he did. A little while later, he actually surprised himself by asking for seconds.
The next helping, though, he ate much more slowly. His stomach wasn't an empty, aching pit anymore—in fact, he was awfully full. So now he was mostly just enjoying the cool taste of sugary cream. He took a small scoop of whipped cream and ran the spoon back and forth across his tongue. His eyes fluttered shut as he listened to the symphony of cheerful conversation all around him, and he sucked the last bit of cream into his mouth. Happily, he opened his eyes again in order to dip the spoon down, then bring it to his lips, where he rolled his tongue over the dessert, shaving away layers of sweet, sticky heaven. A soft, strangled moan pulled his eyes to the left, where Lupin was sitting across from him.
The man's eyes were narrowed, his mouth just slightly open. Harry thought he looked…hungry. Harry raised his brows questioningly, and Remus seemed to realize he'd been caught observing the boy. His face burned, and he quickly averted his eyes. Harry felt guilty that he'd enjoyed so much of the cake, and Remus hadn't had any, yet. He went and got another plateful, then sat next to the man on the bench. "Here," he offered earnestly. "Would you like some?"
Remus's wide eyes traveled from Harry's, down to the cake, and then jerked up again. "Er, no, thank you. I'm allergic to strawberries, actually," he licked his lips nervously.
"Oh," said Harry with seeming understanding, poking at the fruit on his plate. "It's much worse to want something and not be able to have it, isn't it?" he said regretfully, wishing Lupin had chosen to make something he could share in. He glanced up to see the man staring at him, looking slightly horrified.
"Yes, quite," was all Remus managed. Then he bolted.
Remus lie awake that night, trying not to think about what he couldn't seem to stop thinking about. He'd actually had to rush from the table and hide in the WC that afternoon, in a futile attempt to find peace and quiet and distance from Harry, and most especially time to deal with a nearly painful erection. An erection that had materialized while he was watching James's son—Sirius's godson—eat whipped cream. Whipped cream that had been lovingly provided by Remus himself, and likely Remus's own sly subconscious. Freud would have a lot to say about Remus.
He groaned and made to roll over, only to recall that he never had managed to deal with his erection, and agonizing over how it had occurred had really only made it worse. God, what was wrong with him? Harry was only a boy! Well, of course he had just told the boy that turning sixteen meant he would be of age—there was that Freudian impulse again—but sixteen was still just sixteen. Hardly more than a child. Certainly, Harry had been through many things most children would never have to deal with, and he was undoubtedly as tough as they came, but still. Just a child, really. With the most gorgeous green eyes Remus had ever seen. And a heart-stopping smile, and cheeks that turned the most appealing shade of pink nearly whenever Remus laid eyes on them. And an amazing ability to hold his own while fighting Voldemort and his supporters. Hold his own…Jesus. Stop it. And an unwavering loyalty to those he loved. And the kind of courage unmatched by the people around him. And the isolation that came from being different, a fame he handled with grace despite the fact that he'd never asked for it, and any number of burdens that would have crippled most wizards twice his age. Come to think of it, it was rather insulting to call him just a boy. With gorgeous green eyes...
Remus became conscious of the fact that his hand had trailed downward, and he jerked it away from himself as though he'd been stung. Oh, damn. He was going to have to take care of it—it wasn't going away on its own. All right, then. But he wouldn't think about Harry. He wouldn't. He wasn't. He was just… Dark lashes lowered, casting shadows across emerald windows. Pink, wet, rosebud of a tongue slipping out, tentatively trailing over slick skin. Tight, warm, velvet-soft heat, enough to melt ice cream or anything else. Shit, he was still thinking about Harry. Too late. Nothing for it, now. Remus shut his eyes and lost himself in the images.
Even in the dark solitude of Grimmauld place, he held the secret want close and tight. There was no one here, and no one would be arriving, but it didn't matter. Remus stuffed the knuckles of his free hand into his mouth, biting down in hopes of biting back the word he so desperately wanted to moan. Even as he climaxed, his teeth drew blood, which trickled around the almost stifled name.
Back at the Dursleys', Harry was awake as well. It was the first time he'd slept in the bed in a long while, and he told himself that the unfamiliarity was the reason he was having trouble dropping off. Yes, he was just unused to it. And he'd eaten a lot more than he had in a while. He could still taste the sweetness on his tongue, and the roof of his mouth. Yeah, all that sugar was probably keeping him awake. Not…anything else. Not the way Lupin had looked at him, while he was eating his ice cream.
Certainly the memory of those titillating, predatory eyes was not keeping him awake. Nor the recollection of the man's warm hands on his back, as he'd steered Harry out of the kitchen. His inviting smile. His fond touch. The hunger in his eyes. Those eyes burning into his. Delicate sweetness, the delicious flavor of his former professor against his tongue. Warmth of hands, trailing up his back to tangle in his hair. Sexy, hoarse voice forming no words at all, but an incoherent moan. Harry's eyes were squeezed shut. This was so very, very wrong. Lupin would hate him if he found out about this.
He really wanted to stop, but his hand had already slipped under the covers and grasped himself. He shouldn't be doing this—Remus was much too old, friends with his father and godfather, and could never see him that way. He was smart and sexy and gentle and probably preferred women, and doubtlessly had them hanging off his every word wherever he went. He was beautiful, with those feral-hungry eyes, shy, perfect smile, throaty growl of a voice… Harry shuddered, thrusting himself into his hand. That voice set off primal responses in Harry that had nothing to do with running away or hiding.
Harry clamped his jaw shut, trying to hold back the groans that were building and building in his chest. He'd never even called the man by his first name before. God, he wanted to know what it would be like. He could almost feel the heat of the Lupin's gaze on his body. The Dursleys were all asleep, but it wouldn't take much to wake them. He closed his lips between his teeth, letting out no noise beyond his desperate panting. He would not say the name. He remembered those eyes, shining with affection. Happy sweet sixteen, Harry. Harry bit down hard, tasting the metallic blood in his mouth, even as it seasoned the trembling breath. He could not smother the whimper that escaped in a name.
This is my next big one, my next whole enchilada, my next kit-n-caboodle, my next one you've all been waiting for, (should have been waiting for) my next…you get the idea. Now, I am a HUGE Remus/Harry fan, but I appreciate that this is not everyone's cup of tea. Everyone has preferences, and everyone has something that makes them squick. In any case, I will not plan on putting anything extremely graphic on here, because I am a good little girl and follow the rules (some of you who know me well are undoubtedly laughing, and I say shut up.) but I will post it other places, if I even write anything particularly graphic.
Anyhow, I hope you've enjoyed what you've read so far. If so, why not drop me a line? You see that little thing down on the bottom left-hand corner that says 'Review?' That button is your friend. Do not fail to press that button. Failing to press that button and heap glory and song upon my head will result in the immediate destruction of life as we know it. And yes, that would include Jason Isaacs and Daniel Radcliffe, so now you know just what the stakes are. The world is in your hands. I beg you to bear this burden responsibly.
Also, I am looking for someone to Beta Part II for me. It is almost finished, so I am in a bit of a hurry. Something a bit more than thirteen pages in all, I think. I am especially concerned about CONSISTANCY, as I've realized this is not something I pay close enough attention to. I've already had to repost this, because I had ice cream/whipped cream used interchangeably, and had the group indoors/outdoors/apparently the author doesn't give a damn where they are. So, if this is the type of thing you notice, I beg of you, have pity and beta read me! Please! I'll dedicate the fic to you, if you do a decent job!
Thank you. StarryGazer